Form of Government: Republic
Area: 100 219 sq km
Population: 51 780 579 inhab. (estimate 2020)
Density: 516.67 inhab./sq km
Coordinates: lat. 38° - 33° N; long. 126° - 132° E
Capital: Seoul (capital) 9 668 465 inhab. (2020); Seoul 25 514 000 inhab. (2016), metropolitan area
Currency: South Korean won (100 chun)
Human development index: 0.916 (rank: 23)
President: Moon Jae-in (Democratic Party), elected 9 May 2017
Prime Minister: Kim Boo-kyum (Democratic Party), since 14 May 2021
National Assembly: seats based on the elections of 15 April 2020: Democratic Party (liberal), 180; United Future Party (conservative), 103; Justice Party, 6; others, 6; independents, 5
Internet: www.kostat.go.kr (Statistics Korea)
Member of APEC, EBRD, OAS observer, OECD, UN, WTO

Korea, South

Daehan-Minguk
Useful information

International license plate code ROK
International dialling code 0082
Travel vaccinations requirement malaria prophylaxis (low risk confined to some areas for which it is recommended or advised)
Electricity (Voltage) 220
Driving side rigth
Internet code .kr

GMT  +9
DST  not applied
Annual average temperature (°C) Seoul 11.3
Average temperature in January/July (°C) Seoul -4.5/25
Daily sunshine hours in June/December (average) Seoul 7/5
Annual average precipitation (mm) Seoul 1257
Days of rainfall (annual average) Seoul 80

Politics and current affairs

The popularity of President Moon sank with the discovery of a speculative scheme in a state-owned company. This influenced the Seoul and Busan mayoral elections (7 April 2021), which were lost by Democratic Party candidates. President Moon subsequently carried out a government reshuffle.

Geography.
South Korea occupies the southern half of the Korean peninsula with North Korea to the north. The Sea of Japan (East Sea) lies off its east coast and the Yellow Sea off its west coast. To the south, the Korean Strait separates it from the Japanese archipelago. The country is predominantly mountainous in the east and centre. The west and south are mainly flat. Many islands lie off its coasts. It has a temperate climate, with mild winters and hot, humid summers.
South Korea claims sovereignty over the Dokdo Islands, disputed by Japan (which calls them the Takeshima Islands).

Government


Formerly (from 1910) under Japanese sovereignty, the area currently known as South Korea was occupied in 1945 by American troops. The country became independent on 15 August 1948, although it continued to claim territorial rights over the whole Korean peninsula. In 1950, war broke out with North Korea, supported by armed troops from China. On 27 July 1953, the armistice of Panmunjom confirmed that the two Korean states would remain divided by the line of the 38th parallel. Supported by the USA, the government was controlled until 1960 by the authoritarian regime of Rhee Syngman. In 1979, after the assassination of President Park Chung-hee (in office since 1961), there were large popular demonstrations demanding that political freedom should be restored.
The Constitution of 27 October 1987 and the election of Roh Tae-woo as president marked the beginning of the process of restoring democracy to its institutions. In the 1992 elections, for the first time, a civilian, Kim Young-sam was elected. On 13-15 June 2000, the leaders of the two Koreas met for the first time at Pyeongyang, restoring relations between the two states, which then proceeded to waver between phases of collaboration and considerable tension. The President of the Republic, who has extensive powers, is elected by direct suffrage for five years and cannot be re-elected immediately. It is the President who appoints the Prime Minister. Legislative power lies in the hands of the National Assembly (300 members elected for four years).


Defence.
Military service is compulsory. The country hosts about 40 US military bases supporting a force of approximately 28 500.


Justice.
The legal system is based on a combination of components of European Continental Civil Law, British Common Law and Chinese notions. The highest court in the land is the Supreme Court, the members of which are appointed by the head of state.

Defence
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Air force10.1%2015
Army78.8%2015
Justice
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Crimes3 996.4per 100 000 pop.2013
Homicides0.7per 100 000 pop.2016
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Administrative division

Administrative divisions
Cities
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Seoul9 668 465inhab.2020
Busan3 391 946inhab.2020
Urban agglomerations
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Seoul (metropolitan area)25 514 000inhab.2016
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Population

Population by age and gender (% - 2020)
75+
60-74
45-59
30-44
15-29
0-14
MALEAGEFEMALE

North Korean citizens who flee to South Korea automatically become South Korean citizens. Many South Koreans (nearly 500 000) live in Japan.

Demographic statistics
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Birth rate5.32020
Death rate5.92020
Ethnic groups
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Korean97.7%2000
Japanese2$%2000


Religions
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
nonreligious/atheist56$%2016
Protestant20$%2016


Languages
DESCRIPTION
Korean
Population by selected age groups
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
0-14 years12.2%2020
15-29 years18.4%2020


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Economy


Economic situation.
The solid resumption of exports (especially cars and microelectronics) in the second half of 2020 drove economic recovery. Increased unemployment, particularly serious among the young, still has to be reabsorbed. The concentration of production in major conglomerations (chaebol) harms the vitality of the economy and contributes to the rise in youth unemployment. However, some major conglomerations are at the centre of corruption investigations that have upset the leadership.

Economy - General data
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Agricultural prod. index (2004-06=100)102.8index2016
Agricultural prod. index (2014-16=100)100.49index2019
Economy - Employment
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Active population28 012 270units2020
Active population, Females42.9%2020
Economy - Unemployment
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Unemployment rate4$%2020
Unemployment rate, Females43.7%2020
Economy - State budget
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Expenses517 781 000M LCU2020
Revenues446 628 000M LCU2020
Employment by economic activity
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
agriculture5.371%2020
industry24.647%2020
GDP by economic activity
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
agriculture1.772%2019
industry35.868%2019
Financial data
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Currency in circulation147 401.828BN LCU2020
International reserves443 462.938M US$2020
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Agriculture


Primary sector
Agriculture.
Rice is the most commonly grown cereal (especially in the western regions); fruit and vegetables, soya and sweet potatoes are grown to feed the local population. Tobacco, sesame and peanuts are also common. Another typical crop is ginseng, the root of which is used in the pharmaceutical sector.
Livestock and fishing.
Livestock farming is not important whereas fish farming (seaweeds and molluscs, especially oysters) and fishing contribute to the economy. Busan, Mokpo and Incheon are the main fishing ports.

Land use
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
arable land16.366%2018
forests64.674%2018
Agriculture - products - Cereals
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
barley136.9151000 t2019
cereals, total5 260.0771000 t2019
Agriculture - products - Roots and tubers
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
potatoes630.141000 t2019
roots and tubers, total939.3511000 t2019
Agriculture - products - Vegetables
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
cabbages2 573.5321000 t2019
carrots and turnips73.8331000 t2019
Agriculture - products - Pulses
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
beans, dry7.731000 t2019
peas, dry0.0071000 t2019
Agriculture - products - Grape
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
grapes160.7671000 t2019
Agriculture - products - Oilcrops
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
castor oil seed0$1000 t2017
groundnuts11.2111000 t2019
Agriculture - products - Aromatics
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
ginger5.2111000 t2019
tea2.7681000 t2019
Agriculture - products - Industrial crops
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
hops0$1000 t2017
tobacco25.2741000 t2019
Agriculture - products - Cotton
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
seed cotton0.011000 t2017
Agriculture - products - Fiber plants
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
hemp tow waste0.0261000 t2019
Agriculture - products - Fruits
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
apples535.3241000 t2019
fruits, total3 135.2451000 t2019
Agriculture - products - Nuts
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
walnuts1.1311000 t2019
Agriculture - products - Citrus fruits
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
citrus fruits646.11000 t2019
citrus fruits, nes1.11000 t2019
Agriculture - products - Tropical fruits
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
pineapples0.9761000 t2019
Agriculture - products - Others
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
mushrooms21.3411000 t2019
Agriculture - areas harvested - Cereals
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
barley43.7191000 ha2019
maize15$1000 ha2019
Agriculture - areas harvested - Roots and tubers
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
potatoes21.9941000 ha2019
sweet potatoes21.7751000 ha2019
Agriculture - areas harvested - Vegetables
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
cabbages36.1571000 ha2019
carrots and turnips2.1831000 ha2019
Agriculture - areas harvested - Pulses
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
beans, dry6.7651000 ha2019
peas, dry0.0051000 ha2019
Agriculture - areas harvested - Grape
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
grape11.9721000 ha2019
Agriculture - areas harvested - Oilcrops
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
castor oil seed0$1000 ha2017
groundnuts4.0161000 ha2019
Agriculture - areas harvested - Aromatics
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
ginger2.1051000 ha2019
tea2.5331000 ha2019
Agriculture - areas harvested - Industrial crops
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
hops0$1000 ha2017
tobacco10.3371000 ha2019
Agriculture - areas harvested - Cotton
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
seed cotton0.0091000 ha2018
Agriculture - areas harvested - Fiber plants
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
hemp tow waste0.0161000 ha2019
Agriculture - areas harvested - Fruits
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
apples32.9541000 ha2019
kiwi fruit0.3441000 ha2019
Agriculture - areas harvested - Nuts
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
walnuts0.5771000 ha2019
Agriculture - areas harvested - Citrus fruits
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
citrus fruits21.8511000 ha2019
citrus fruits, nes0.1881000 ha2019
Agriculture - areas harvested - Tropical fruits
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
pineapples0.0311000 ha2019
Agriculture - areas harvested - Others
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
mushrooms0.161000 ha2019
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Forests-Livestock-Fishing

Forestry
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
timber4 577 0002019
Livestock - Cattle
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
cattle3 645.191000 heads2019
cattle and buffaloes3 645.191000 heads2019
Livestock - Pigs
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
pigs11 279.8941000 heads2019
Livestock - Sheep
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
sheep1.1111000 heads2019
Livestock - Goats
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
goats388.6411000 heads2019
Livestock - Equines
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
equines, total24.9181000 heads2019
horses24.9181000 heads2019
Livestock - Poultry
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
birds181 5711000 heads2019
Livestock - Beekeeping
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
honey29.5181000 t2019
Livestock - Silk farming
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
silk, raw0.0031000 t2018
Livestock - Livestock products
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
butter84.9081000 t2018
cheese37.9461000 t2019
Fishing
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
crustaceans and molluscs711 847.132t2019
freshwater fishes17 595t2019
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Minerals


Secondary sector
Minerals.
The country has insufficient mineral and energy resources to meet its internal demand, especially in terms of the highly developed industrial system. Coal is the most important mineral mined (at Jangseong, Dogye and Hwaseong) but also iron (at Gangwon Province), gold (at Haenam), silver, lead and zinc. A project has recently been under way to reopen the tungsten-molybdenum deposits in Sangdong (south-east of Seoul), inactive since 1993. In 2010, the discovery of a vast ore of rare earth in the Gangwon Province was announced.
Energy and industry.
To reduce its heavy reliance on foreign electrical power, South Korea has opted to produce nuclear power (it has 24 reactors in operation and 4 under construction), which provide about 26% of the national electrical energy requirement in 2019.
The most consolidated industrial sectors are metalworking and iron and steel (at Pohang, Kwangyang, Incheon and Janghang), dominated by the giant POSCO (Pohang Iron and Steel Company), and the chemical and petrochemical sector (at Daesan, Incheon, Ulsan and Yeosu). The shipbuilding industry, very developed even if on the decline for many years (construction yards in Changwon, Geoje, Ulsan, and Yeongam), and the automotive industry provide strong exports. The electronics sector is very dynamic and highly diversified, producing radio and television equipment, telecommunications equipment, computers and semiconductors. Other important industries are textiles (at Busan, Masan, Daegu, Daejeon and Incheon), cement and paper.

Mineral resources - Energy minerals
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
coal1 0191000 t2020
coal, total1 0191000 t2020
Mineral resources - Metal ores
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
copper0.1171000 t2016
iron ore5751000 t2020
Mineral resources - Non-metal ores
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
bentonite32$1000 t2019
clay1201000 t2019
Mineral resources - Rocks
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
diatomite41$1000 t2020
dolomite2 5931000 t2016
Mineral resources - Precious metals and stones
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
gold238kg2018
silver7 090kg2018
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Energy

Electric energy - Generated
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
- thermal376 421.12M kWh2019
- nuclear138 809M kWh2019
Electric energy - Installed capacity
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
- thermal86 362.991000 kW2018
- nuclear23 0941000 kW2019
Electric energy - Total production and capacity
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
total net generation544 790.65M kWh2019
total installed capacity128 066.991000 kW2018
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Industry

Industry - Iron and Steel, Metallurgy
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
bismuth0.831000 t2020
cadmium3 000t2020
Industry - Machinery and transport equipment
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
bikes2 250no.2005
cars3 211 706no.2020
Industry - Precision and optical instruments
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
watches and clocks250 978no.2015
Industry - Electrical and electronics
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
air conditioners4 593 667no.2015
car navigation systems2 414 118no.2015
Industry - Petrochemicals
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
bitumen4 4891000 t2018
petrol38 297.41000 t2014
Industry - Chemicals
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
caustic soda2 642.21000 t2016
fertilizers2 1421000 t2020
Industry - Textiles
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
carpets15 231.11000 m²2015
cotton fabrics14.6M m²2015
Industry - Food and beverages
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
beer of barley2 004.21000 t2018
coconut oil0.191000 t2018
Industry - Tobacco
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
cigarettes126 614M units2011
cigars and cigarettes126 614M units2011
Industry - Paper and wood products
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
chemical pulp4541000 t2019
chemi-mechanical pulp5101000 t2019
Industry - Glass and other non-metallic mineral products
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
cement47 5181000 t2020
sheet glass - t1 364.71000 t2007
Industry - Various
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
chemicals production49 327.639M US$2018
food, beverages and tobacco production30 374.793M US$2018
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Trade


Tertiary sector
Foreign trade.
The country imports large amounts of energy, as well as steel, semi-finished products, electronic material, chemicals and textiles. The main exports are finished industrial products of various kinds. Its main trading partners are China, Japan and the USA.


Main exports (M US$ - 2017) electronic integrated circuits and microassemblies 86 106, electrical and electronic equipment 57 952, machinery and home appliances 55 477, ships and boats 40 992, cars 38 832, iron and steel 35 426, petroleum products 34 815, plastics 31 486, chemicals 30 644, optical and electro-medical appliances 29 024, vehicles and parts thereof 23 091, telecommunications equipment 15 653, computers and accessories 13 859, cosmetics 4 974, synthetic and artificial fibres and yarns 4 550, refined copper 4 428, gold and jewels 4 232, tyres 3 438


Finance and banking.
The Bank of Korea acts as the central bank. There are large privately owned banking groups at the national level, as well as regional institutes and a state-owned development bank. The stock exchange at Busan is one of the most important in Asia.

Composition of goods exports
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
manufactures87.398% of goods exports2019
fuels7.78% of goods exports2019
International trade by country - Merchandise Export
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
China132 555M US$2020
United States74 395M US$2020
International trade by country - Merchandise Import
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
China108 869M US$2020
United States57 765M US$2020
Merchandise Export
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
2020512 498M US$ -
2019542 233M US$ -
Merchandise Import
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
2020467 633M US$ -
2019503 343M US$ -
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Tourism


Tourism. The main tourist attractions are the mountains, the historical sites and the island of Jeju. Many of the tourists come from China and Japan.

International Tourism
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Expenditures34 844M US$2019
Number of arrivals17 503 000units2019
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Communications


Transport.
The maritime transport network is very important on account of the large size of the merchant fleet, especially in the field of container transport, and the great capacity of South Korean ports (including that of Donghae). The national and international air transport system is highly developed. Nearly 2000 km of high-speed railway lines are active.

Communication - Transport
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Civil aviation, km flown406 500 000km flown2004
Civil aviation, passengers carried92 434.11000 units2019
Communication - Media and telecommunication
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Broadband subscribers427.644per 1000 pop.2019
Computers576per 1000 pop.2008
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Social and welfare


Education and research.

Primary education is free and compulsory between the ages of 6 and 12. Secondary education, divided into three years of middle school and three years of secondary school, lasts for six years. There are numerous academic institutions and advanced schools of specialization, most of which are private.


Social security.
The national social security system provides retirement pensions, invalidity pensions and pensions for surviving dependents. There is also an insurance plan for the unemployed.

Social statistics - Education
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Expected years of schooling16.494years2018
Gradautes, percentage50.031%2019
Social statistics - Students and Teachers by level
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Students, primary level2 719 358units2018
Students, secondary level2 893 979units2018
Social statistics - Social protection
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Social protection spending21.9% of total expenses2010
Social protection spending12.2% of GDP2019
Social statistics - Health
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Hospital beds12.43per 1000 pop.2018
Physicians2.39per 1000 pop.2018
Social statistics - Diseases
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
HIV-0.1% of adults2011
Malaria559cases2019
Research
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Research and development spending4.52% of GDP2018
Other social indicators
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Access to clean fuels and technologies for cooking100%2019
Access to electricity100%2019
Household consumption expenditure
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
clothing, footwear5.6%2019
education8.3%2019
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